Taiko no Tatsujin 12 arcade machine is the twelfth version in this series of drum music games for the arcade, which requires players to play the drums with rhythm when symbols appear on the screen.
The player uses a simulated taiko drum controller to play the notes of a chosen song's drum part as they are displayed on the screen. This version features over 100 songs, and can be played by 2 people simultaneously. Song genres include J-Pop, Anime, Variety, Children/Folk, Classical, Game and Namco Original.
Symbols moving horizontally along a timeline show the player what to hit and when. Blue symbols indicate that the drum should be hit on the rim. Red symbols indicate that the face of the drum should be hit.
The drum can be hit on the left and/or right side. The symbols can be either large or small. Large symbols indicate that the drum should be struck on both sides simultaneously, and small symbols indicate that the drum should be hit on either side. A large blue symbol thus means that the left and right rim should be hit at the same time.
The player needs to accomplish at least 65% of the drum chart to pass, and the harder levels (hard and Oni mode) and modifiers (e.g.: hidden mode) will require much skill and chart recognition. Successful play builds up a life meter, and if the meter is past a certain point by the end of the song, the song is passed.